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Journal News

Honoring Edna Rivera

April 26, 2003
Copyright © 2003
Journal News. All rights reserved. 

HOGAR director an advocate for housing needs

We second the choice of Edna Rivera for Rockland's second annual Fair Housing Award.

This activist has given 24/7 for people with housing needs.

Rivera is executive director of Housing Opportunities for Growth and Revitalization in Haverstraw village and was selected from among several nominees, according to Ram Nagubandi, commissioner of the county's Human Rights Department, which sponsors the award.

The winner has spent the past decade working for fair and affordable housing for people, regardless of race or economic status.

Gerri Levy, executive director of the Rockland Housing Action Coalition Inc., was the award's first recipient.

Rivera is quick to give some of the praise to HOGAR: "We promote to such a wide diversity of families. The results are that a very large number of our homeowners come from different ethnicities."

Well, diversity is and long has been Rockland, and HOGAR is one of several key groups assisting our people.

Fair housing can be "a difficult task in Rockland," as Nagubandi correctly notes. But when you have an advocate like Rivera, who knows the system well and just whom to contact for assistance, red tape gets cut and success follows.

Through HOGAR, Rivera runs the First Home Club, co-sponsored by the Federal Home Loan Bank and HSBC. The program helps participants understand the importance of opening a savings account and making monthly deposits. When they complete the program, clients may be eligible for a grant of as much as $5,000 toward purchasing their own home.

About 271 families have bought their homes with HOGAR's assistance in the last nine years.

HOGAR, under Rivera's direction, has also fought for improved immigrant living conditions at the Hyenga Lake bungalows in Clarkstown and also purchased beds and helped organize relief efforts for 19 victims of a 1999 firebombing in Spring Valley.

And there have been coordinated drives for food, money and other supplies to send to hurricane victims in Puerto Rico, Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

"Edna's much more than just a visionary and a humanitarian," says James Yarmus, Rockland's director of planning and transportation. "She's also an implementor, and that's why I admire her."

We do as well. She is quick to lean on officials if they are not doing their job. She minces no words. She offers a helping hand to so many.

We applaud Edna Rivera and are pleased that Rockland Human Rights has taken note.

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